Underscoring the need to protect the state’s vast network of interconnected waterways, The Biden administration put a roadblock in front of the Twin Metals mining project for at least two decades, effectively banning mining across a large swath of land in northern Minnesota, which is especially wet and rich in biodiversity.
Environmentalists and indigenous communities were thrilled by the Interior Department’s action to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and surrounding watershed by withdrawing roughly 225,000 acres from mining practices for 20 years.
They previously raised concerns regarding the mining’s potential impacts on the area’s watershed, fish and wildlife, Tribal and treaty rights, and robust recreation economy in the most heavily visited wilderness area in the United States.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a news release that their decision was made using the best available science and extensive public input and with an eye toward protecting this special place for future generations.
The Interior Department’s decision is the latest blow to Antofagasta Plc’s – which previously sued the Biden administration for canceling its mineral leases -Twin Metals copper and nickel mining project.
Commenting on the decision, the company said in a statement that it is deeply disappointed and stunned by the decision and that it remains committed to enforcing its rights.
Considering the fact that copper and nickel are key in building EVs, solar panels, wind turbines, and other renewable energy devices, this decision also further escalates the tension in the nation over where and how to procure the minerals crucial for the green energy transition.
Hence, an outright ban right now will unquestionably have political costs since GOP is already claiming that Biden is halting American mining jobs while supporting miners in other countries, referring to the mineral supply deal that Biden struck in December with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia for minerals from Africa.
House Republicans now plot to throw bombs at his efforts to finance mines overseas with a State Department-led initiative and suggested they’ll zero in on his efforts.
GOP Rep. Pete Stauber stressed that the Biden administration is continuing to send American taxpayer dollars to countries like the Congo that use child slave labor instead of developing American domestic vast mineral wealth with high-wage, union-protected jobs America needs.